My radio-based installation Hive had its second outing at the Latitude festival in July. 
50 or more radios, each tuned to a different station and left to run simultaneously in an enclosed dome. All possible radio sources broadcasting simultaneously in one location. 

We are inundated with information all the time. This installation examines how one filters this information.

15,000 people visited the installation at Latitude. It was very interesting to watch how they interacted with it.
There was quite a bit of media interest, including BBC Click and ITN News, and Max Reinhardt from BBC Radio 3's excellent Late Junction show. Here's his Latitude write-up.
The BBC also interviewed me for the Today Programme on Radio 4. I'd never heard the Today Programme before; I'm not known as an early riser.
I was asked to install Hive by Dr Marius Kwint in association with the Wellcome Trust.

The installation connects very closely with the work scientists are carrying out at the cutting edge of auditory research, investigating the ways that we interpret and filter multiple auditory signals: The cocktail party effect and other processes relating to the acoustics of three dimensional spaces, pattern recognition, and familiarity through repetition and cultural experiences.

Marius chaired a talk with me and music psychologist Dr Vicky Williamson to discuss the science behind Hive's immersive acoustic. Vicky gave her insight into the current thinking: We now know that information doesn't simply flow as one-way traffic from the ears to the brain to be processed; as much information passes in the opposite direction, with the brain actively instructing the ears what to listen out for.

Interestingly, closing your eyes while listening doesn't simply enhance listening by denying visual stimuli, it is now understood that the act of doing this physiologically changes the way the brain and ears function, and alters the listening experience at a fundamental level.
The film at the top of this blog is made from stills taken inside the dome at Latitude, manipulated by film-maker and animator Amy Engels. 
Thanks are due to Marius Kwint, Vicky Williamson, Richard Wingate, Tania Harrison from Latitude, Amy Sanders from the Wellcome Trust and Andy James. And especially to Richard and all at Ruark for the kind loan of your great radios. 

And I would like to thank the Guardians of the Portal of Noise - Toni, Ed, Amy and Alex, who babysat the dome for hours at a stretch.

​It sounds like chaos at first, but it's calming once you're used to it. I slept in there one night.
The Mercury Rev gig was GREAT.  The night was an unadulterated JOY.  The atmosphere backstage was generous, super friendly, focussed.  Ben Frost had six bass stacks behind him on full pelt, two drummers either side including the great Shahzad Ismaily, shaking Koko with volume so hard that you knew where the nearest steel girder was wherever you were in the building.  Then we came on and did our improvised thing - a live soundtrack to The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse:
... as filmed by someone in the audience with forearms of steel.... (that's Grasshopper we see doing his thing - I'm way off on the left with theremin, zither, electronics and pedals)  And then SWANS came on... and just took off.  The music was mesmeric.  Yes, it was unbelievably loud, but it was exquisitely loud, like a vast wave lifting you up and surging through you without breaking.  It actually took my breath away. Unforgettable, beautiful.

Thank you, Grasshopper and Jonathan for asking me along... a special night. X
Next Thursday 4th April 2013, I'm joining up with Mercury Rev's Cinematic Silent Sound Tettix Wave Ensemble for a gig at Koko in Camden, North London.  We're being joined by drummer / percussionist Martin Smith of Tuung, so the full name of the band is Mercury Rev's Cinematic Silent Sound Tettix Wave Ensemble Featuring Nick Franglen and Martin Smth, or MRCSSTWEFNFAMS for short. 

This festival evening - Mouth to Mouth - is being curated by Michael Gira of Swans:  Ben FrostXiu Xiu and Grouper in support, then us, and Swans headline the show.  It's a great lineup.  If you've not seen Swans before, they'll blow your fucking socks off, incredible - see below.  Here's an excellent interview with Swans drummer Thor on The Quietus site.  We of MRCSSTWEFNFAMS will be creating a live soundtrack to a film, and it's going to be special and unrepeatable.  Click here for more details and tickets.
Also it's the first time I'll have played at Koko, which is a big deal for me. It was my haunt for my teenage years when it was the Music Machine -  saw The ClashSiouxsie etc there, and was there on the opening night after Steve Strange and Rusty Egan had dolled it up and reopened it as the what-the-fuck-have-they-done-to-it Camden Palace. They kept the old bouncers though, just so the transition wasn't too abrupt.  Maybe they're still there, with their single leather gloves and cheery disposition.
...there's only one great Cowell in music.  Henry Cowell - The Banshee for solo piano, 1925.
I'm lucky to be one of the recipients of Miles Gibson's great Postcards.  They appear in the post at random intervals.  I think the postman enjoys them as well.

Sometimes there is a random intervention on these 'Guaranteed Genuine Works of Art', as it says on the back.  What could be more apt for today than this belle, receiving a shower of well-deserved hearts from the franking machine.  It must be love! Happy Valentine's Day!

Thomas Dawson's pancake recipe from 1585.  

From the British Library - - as is this document, which analyses the geology of the new(ish) British Library building, highlighting the sources for the different stones, and fossils within the walls.  Good stuff.
This is basic plucking or The Staunton Lick. Or at least this is what it sounded like before we messed with it. And a Pig. I should play it a bit quicker but I've hurt my finger. And Mirkin kept falling off. Etc.



1 Comment

I'm prepping for the Nico show on the 16th, getting sounds together and stuff.  And girding my loins for the nightmare polka we always dance at the airport to get my gear through.  Some people can travel light.  Not me.

Love this song.  Shibuya, 1986.
Here's a new track I made last night by mistake - bit early to be getting in the mood but...

The constant dreams have now stopped, but I'm missing Millennium Mills an enormous amount. It's not just the adrenaline, I loved being in there. A very private world.

Here's the first of the Legacy background films.  I am constructing a solar powered toy rowing boat during a firework display.  Enjoy.